Orlando is about 140 miles south of Jacksonville. The fastest route by car is to take I-4 out of Orlando and exit on to I-95 which will take you north to Jacksonville. This drive should take a little over 2 hours. An optional and more scenic route would be to take Hwy. A1A, Florida's Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway, out of Daytona Beach, which follows along the coast through all the beach communities en route. This may not be the best route for the business traveler, but the vacationer would enjoy the spectacular beaches and the ocean views.
Before leaving Orlando visit some of the amazing attractions. Orlando is the theme park destination of Florida and possibly the world. Big names include Disney World; SeaWorld Orlando; and Universal Orlando.
For a day trip from Orlando it would be thrilling to visit the Kennedy Space Center. Take Hwy. 528 straight east out of Orlando to the coast. Hwy. 528 will connect with Hwy. A1A; follow the signs to Kennedy Space Center. Activities at the Center include visiting all the exhibits from Apollo to Space Shuttle; meeting up with an actual astronaut; and experience a Space Shuttle launch. To get to Jacksonville from this little side trip either take Hwy. A1A up the coast to Jacksonville or go back to I-95 for a more express route.
Back on I-4 going north toward I-95 you will find the Central Florida Zoo near Lake Monroe. With over 500 animals to see, this would make a great stop for a family outing.
If you took the coastal route the next stop should be the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse between Port Orange and New Smyrna Beach. Take a guided tour of this historic lighthouse. Experience the dazzling views from the top of the lighthouse after climbing the 203 steps required to get there. Imagine a tall ship of days gone by sailing toward the shore. Learn about the lenses and the history of this fabulous lighthouse.
Just past the intersection of I-4 and I-95, situated between I-95 and the Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway is Daytona International Speedway. If the timing is right, you can take in a race or just tour the enormous speedway. To experience the thrill of speed go on a ride along with a professional driver or get behind the wheel and take a car for a spin yourself. Excitement thrives at the Speedway.
Now traveling north on the Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway (Hwy. A1A) you will find a variety of place to stop; something to see almost every mile. From monuments to museums; state parks to beaches, and even the infamous Fountain of Youth; this trip will make memories to last a lifetime.
For a chance to encounter dolphins up close and personal visit the Marineland Dolphin Adventure. Located just north of Palm Coast and adjacent to Matanzas State Park, this adventure will delight kids of every age. They offer a variety of dolphin experiences that start at feeding and petting to actually getting in the water and playing with the dolphins. Experience the thrill first hand. Photo: Thomas Barrat /Fotolia
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